Nothing to lose.

I realized I hadn’t turned off the hose in the backyard.

As I rounded the side of the house I saw a misty spray of water over the fence, shooting straight up towards the birdhouse in our tree. A toddler laughed gleefully. Her back was turned towards me.

“STOP.” I said firmly.

She releases her grip from the trigger and turns around slowly to face me. The smile quickly fades from her face. It is replaced with a stoic, indifferent expression. An expression contemplating something. Calculating her next move, perhaps. Suddenly her face contorts into a mischievous grin as she looks down at the hose in her hands.

She repositions her hands firmly around the trigger. She sprays in shower mode on full force, and I saw the nozzle kickback a bit before she clumsily readjusted her aim on me. I receive a face full of water.

“Augggghghhheedafff!” I scream.

She let go off the trigger again, surprised by my scream. Her eyes go wide as she stares again with that indifferent expression on her face. She did not stop spraying because of my anger, but to observe the result of her actions. As if I were some experiment. I was angry, all right. But she had seen that angry face I made many times. All the times she was put in the time-out corner.

Along with my angry face, I was also drenched in water. Water dripping off the tip of my nose and rolling down the sides of my face. And that was what made her laugh maniacally. That maniacal, nearly insane sounding laugh sounded like an uncontrollable high-pitched giggle that transformed into a deep, roaring guffaw.

“Eeee-he-he-he-he-AH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAWW-HAWWWWWWWW!!!” the toddler laughed as she repositions her fingers on the nozzle and trigger again. I was maybe 25 feet away from her and knew it would be too late to take the hose from her hands in time. I prepared myself by holding my breath to prevent more water going up my nose and started walking forward. She sprayed me again, this time as  if remembering the recoil of the nozzle from before, because it only took a couple seconds to readjust her aim directly on my face. Impressed with her newfound control of the weapon, she playfully waved it down on my shirt, and back up to my face, then back down to my shirt again, making sure I was completely drenched from head to toe this time, laughing her gleefully deranged laugh the entire time.

“DON’T. YOU. DARE!” I say helplessly and with abandon, as I trudged against the force of the water towards this child who knew the difference between right and wrong, but clearly chose not to care at the moment.

And I wondered, at what point did she choose not to care? She had been put in the time-out corner for far less, and more often these days. She knew she would be punished indefinitely before she even pulled the trigger, just because she had grabbed ahold of it to water the tree. It was maybe at this time that she first had the revelation, as do many children before her in situations like these – I have nothing to lose.

Taking the hose out of her hands, we stood there facing each other in silence. She was smiling. And for some reason I laughed. She laughed in return.

I whipped the nozzle towards her and sprayed.

Nothingness.

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Visiting California was a sort of test for me. I saw my nephew for the first time, my brother and his wife saw my 2nd baby for the first time. We planned trips to Napa for wine tasting, and ate tons of food. I looked forward to eating at Morimoto for months. See the pics above.

Usually a vacation makes me feel refreshed or happier. My favorite two things to do used to be wine tasting and trying new foods.

I felt nothing.

Not that I didn’t have an appreciation for the food. I admire new dishes that I tried and respect the effort that went into preparing them. I also like the fact I can eat something that I have no idea how to prepare at home myself. What’s missing is my excitement. Even though the food is new, it’s old in the fact that I’ve had ‘new’ so many times.

I haven’t watched a movie in a movie theater in years. I refuse to sit in a movie theater anymore, because I have so little precious free time, and to sit in a dark theater not talking or thinking and just being immersed in the same old plot using the same old formula that was probably loosely adapted from a book that was probably way better than the movie itself. Always a disappointment.

Music is the same. Everything sounds like a cover of a cover of a cover of a song from the 1940s. Nobody singing lately sounds like they had any meaningful  life experiences to sing about. They are mostly songs about how rich and famous they are. I’m probably listening to the wrong stations, but I haven’t had any ambition to look for anything, so I turn it off.

Art, like everything else, seems to be about money as well. How many times do I see an artist make something authentic anymore? Everything is about shock value. Not that I’m opposed to shock value itself, but shock value for popularity, for financial gain. I feel like artists paint along and wonder how much money they can get out for it. It’s lost all meaning. Yes, people should make a living doing what they love. But it seems they all just love making money, not art.

Look at this blog. I have ads posted all over the place because everyone told me to profit off of it. In a way, it’s great because I don’t have to pay the annual expense of keeping this website up. It pays for itself. But my husband thinks one day I’ll make real money with this blog. Like, enough money to make a living. It got to the point where I’m told I shouldn’t write certain things, I should make it more friendly to people, I should try to gain more of an audience by saying certain things. Less opinions. Less feelings. Less honesty. And definitely, never ever write things like this post. Meaning, don’t ever be myself. I was even told by someone to just write things for shock value, to increase my hits and gain popularity. What ever happened to writing because you enjoy writing? Why is everything for profit? Someone slap me across the face if I ever post 15 recipes in a row advertising Kikkoman soy sauce (sponsored by Kikkoman!) or 25 easy ways to use my Kitchenaid mixer (sponsored by Kitchenaid!).

I’ve stopped drawing because I’m at a standstill with my technique. The more I am told (aside from being mediocre) that everything I draw looks exaggerated, or cartoonish, I end up drawing things like this:

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It looks like one of those awful commissioned portraits people do for $49.99. I hate it. so. much. I get depressed after finishing every single one I draw now. I realized I took to heart every negative comment and did the opposite. This is the outcome. Now it looks like everyone else I see on the internet. It doesn’t look like me anymore. It looks like every other artist portrait, the ones where you can’t tell any of them apart.

I’ve crumpled up so many of these drawings. But some of them, I force myself to tape up on the wall so I have to stare at it everyday. I scrutinize every part of it, and think of ways to improve things later on. My technique has improved, but my style and creativity, well, I have none. I can’t even fake it.

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All of this screams me trying to improve my technique, but nothing else is behind it. There’s no story, nothing interesting to tell. Nobody thinks anything when they see this.

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This is me trying to show her hair and side of her face in sunlight. That’s all I tried to do.

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This is me giving up on the rest of the drawing because I felt I screwed up the faces. So I just made a rough outline of her body and called it a day.

So you see, I can’t even fake it. I remember sitting in each art class in college on critique days, and I couldn’t even muster up fake reasons for why I did anything. Like, I felt it was important to put focus on the faces rather than the bodies because blah blah blah. And, I was trying to portray his blah blah expression and his story is blah blah blah. Sometimes I wondered if everyone else was making it up as they went along, and fooling the rest of us. Or maybe they were really all authentic and free and did have stories to tell. And I had nothing to say.

Actually, I do have a short story to tell. One day, I was pulled over for speeding. Every woman in the entire world I knew said she made herself cry so they wouldn’t get a ticket. So I tried to think about things to cry about. I couldn’t. I didn’t feel anything. The cop asked me if I knew why he pulled me over. I shrugged. He said I was going 20 over the speed limit. I shrugged again. Should I lie and tell him I really needed to pee? Should I pretend sob? I just sat there. I couldn’t do it. Not because I had morals or whatever (well, that was a tiny part of it). But I couldn’t lie about it. It wasn’t worth it. Plus, I absolutely hated looking weak, especially in front of law enforcement. And especially in front of a man. It would be the total opposite of who I was. I rather pay the ticket and sit there absolutely stoic, as if he didn’t affect me at all. He had probably seen hundreds of women sobbing through tickets. I didn’t give him the satisfaction. I wish I hadn’t been ‘speeding’ the last 100 yards before the new speed limit sign at a speed trap, though.

That was one of those defining moments where I realized what kind of person I was. I didn’t care about myself enough to get out of a ticket. I wouldn’t have felt good getting out of a ticket. Everyone else feels good getting out of a ticket. Something must be wrong with me.

Calling it postpartum depression sounds too feminine. And hormonally imbalanced. It sounds way more hip to say I have an existential crisis.

Maybe instead of a book club I should start a fight club. With moms.

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